For 16 years, Mpho and Mandoza shared a life together. They started dating in 1998 and got married traditionally in 2002.
When they first met, Mpho wasn’t impressed by his kwaito charm. Instead she ignored his advances and only after some time did she begin to pay attention. Bona Magazine details how they met at the same spot Mandoza had tried talking to Mpho at first.
I judged him initially, but when I got to know him, I was blown away by his personality.
Of their relationship and the beginning of it, Mpho would recall how they were just two normal people who were ambitious and trying to make things work.
“We used taxis or walked. Now when we think about it, we just laugh,” Mpho told Move Magazine. She also recounted how, when Mandoza was still an upcoming artist, the first car he bought was a ‘skoro-koro‘. She would help him push it after it broke down while they were on a date.
“I judged him initially, but when I got to know him, I was blown away by his personality. Very early on, he showed me that he could take care of me. He would bring me a chocolate or something small when he came by. And he always made sure to call and check up on me. I wasn’t used to that, so at times, it would irritate me. Even my friends joked that his attention was too much,” said Mpho.
About their relationship, Mandoza only had praises for his partner.
“I fell for her because I knew she was the woman that I wanted. She had the looks, and I saw her as my future wife,” he explained.
Their love story, however, was far from perfect and went through many obstacles, such as when the pair moved in together in 2002, and while they were busy preparing for their wedding, Mpho had to contend with claims Mandoza had fathered a baby boy with a 17-year old schoolgirl, Lucy Komotolo, a year later. Around the same time, Mpho had a miscarriage, which Mandoza said was caused by all the bad publicity he was getting.
“I’m not fighting you, I can never fight you. But please Joe, respect me. You’ve already caused me so much pain that you’re not aware of. I’m 25 and trying to become a man, but you keep messing up my life,” Mandoza told a City Press reporter who had broken the story at the time.
They also made headlines in 2007 when reports claimed he assaulted Mpho at a shopping centre. She had found out about a woman he was said to have been seeing for almost two years.
While they had their fair share of controversial incidents, especially as a couple living in the public eye, Mpho and Mandoza admitted they wanted to part ways as a result.
“We’ve wanted to get divorced many times. When I got married, my uncle sat me down and told me that divorce was not an option in our family,” Mandoza said.
Giving insight into how they handled conflict, Mpho said they knew how to apologise to one another.
“He knows what to do when I’m cross, and I know what to do when he is upset. He always apologises afterwards, and I do the same,” says Mpho.
In 2008, Mandoza had to pay a cash settlement to the families of the victims who died in a car crash he was involved in. His Chrysler Crossfire hit the a VW Jetta on the 14th Avenue off-ramp in Johannesburg, killing the occupants of the car. Mpho was by his side as he attended court cases related to the incident and when he was ordered to pay thousands to the families.
‘I fell for her because I knew she was the woman that I wanted.’
In 2013, the pair had to sell their mansion in the exclusive Eagle Canyon estate in the west of Joburg. They had come upon tough times and Mandoza’s career had hit a stalemate. He wasn’t getting booked as much as he used to, and he, Mpho and their two sons had to move back to his mother’s house in Pimville, Soweto.
A City Press report quotes a record executive – who declined to be named – revealing Mandoza was having financial trouble: “Financially, things have not been going well for him so that is why he decided to go back to the township. It is so sad that a person who has been leading a lavish life can fall on hard times so easily.”
Despite the tough times, the pair continued to stick together and managed to overcome their circumstances to build a strong marriage. They also came upon trying times when Mpho suffered a stroke. During an interview, Mandoza was by his wife’s side as she recounted the harrowing ordeal. The public came to hear how Mandoza would care for his wife as she tried to recover from the stroke.
When it was Mandoza’s health that deteriorated after he was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago, Mpho was once again at his side, eventually issuing a statement that her husband was ill and needed prayers.
On the day of Mandoza’s death, which was also Mpho’s birthday, he had wanted to cook for her as a romantic and celebratory gesture.
Mzwakhe Tshabalala, Mandoza’s uncle, only had kind words for Mpho and how she stood by him through thick and thin.
“Sister Mpho is such an amazing woman. Even in difficult times, she was there. Seeing her speaking to her husband’s lifeless body was like looking at a woman that was broken. She said: ‘I love this man. I love this man.’ She has remained strong,” he said.